Vivekananda Yoga Kendram, Karimnagar

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14, September 2012
Lecturing tours in America and England

Following the Parliament of Religions, Vivekananda spent nearly two years lecturing in various parts of eastern and central United States, mostly in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and New York. He founded the "Vedanta Society of New York" in 1894. By the spring of 1895, his busy and tiring schedule led to poor health. He stopped lecturing tours, and started giving free and private classes on Vedanta and Yoga. Starting in June 1895, he conducted private lectures to a dozen of his disciples at the Thousand Island Park in New York for two months.

During his first visit to the West, he travelled to England twice—in 1895 and 1896. His lectures were successful there. There in November 1895, he met Margaret Elizabeth Noble, an Irish lady, who would later become Sister Nivedita. During his second visit to England in May 1896, Vivekananda met Max Müller, a noted Indologist from Oxford University who wrote Ramakrishna's first biography in the West. From England, he also visited other European countries. In Germany he met Paul Deussen, another Indologist. Vivekananda was offered academic positions in two American universities—one for the chair of Eastern Philosophy at Harvard University and another similar position at Columbia University—which he declined since such duties would conflict with his commitment as a monk.

Vivekananda attracted several followers and admirers in the US and Europe, such as Josephine MacLeod, William James, Josiah Royce, Robert G. Ingersoll, Nikola Tesla, Lord Kelvin, Harriet Monroe, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Sarah Bernhardt, Emma Calvé, and Professor Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz. He initiated several followers into his mission; Marie Louise, a French woman, became Swami Abhayananda, and Mr. Leon Landsberg, became Swami Kripananda.

From West, Vivekananda also set his work back in India in motion. He was in regular correspondence with his followers and brother monks, offering advice and monetary funds. His letters in this period reflect motives of his campaign for social service, and often contained strong words. He wrote to Swami Akhandananda, "Go from door to door amongst the poor and lower classes of the town of Khetri and teach them religion. Also, let them have oral lessons on geography and such other subjects. No good will come of sitting idle and having princely dishes, and saying "Ramakrishna, O Lord!"—unless you can do some good to the poor." Eventually in 1895, money sent by Vivekananda was used to start the periodical Brahmavadin, for the purpose of teaching the Vedanta. Later, Vivekananda's translation of first six chapters of The Imitation of Christ was published in Brahmavadin (1889). Vivekananda left for India on 16 December 1896 from England with his disciples, Captain and Mrs. Sevier, and J.J. Goodwin. On the way they visited France and Italy, and set sail for India from the Port of Naples on 30 December 1896. He was later followed to India by Sister Nivedita. Nivedita devoted the rest of her life to the education of Indian women and the cause of India's independence.

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